2/27/2017 — 

WASHINGTON, DC - Today, U.S. Senator Jack Reed voted against President Trump’s nominee for Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce, Wilbur Ross. Ross was confirmed by a vote of 72-27.

Senator Reed stated:

“I voted no because there are still too many conflicts of interest and too many unanswered questions about Mr. Ross’s banking ties to Russia.  The Senate should have delayed the confirmation process until the American people got answers both about how Mr. Ross plans to recuse himself from matters that could financially benefit President Trump. 

“Mr. Ross is now the Commerce Secretary, but he will still have to divest most of his business holdings, answer legitimate questions, and be held accountable for his answers and actions.

“I also have concerns about his track record on protecting American jobs.  Mr. Ross is known for bringing success to investors by flipping distressed business in the U.S., but he has also shown himself willing to cut jobs and export work overseas in order to maximize profits.  He was a champion of the Central American Free Trade Agreement, and while he has railed against NAFTA, he also sent jobs to Mexico.  In 2015, he wrote in support of “fast-track” trade negotiation authority in order to promote the adoption of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) – a deal he now opposes.

“The Commerce Secretary must demonstrate a strong commitment to ethics, transparency, and independence.  During the confirmation process, Mr. Ross did not provide adequate assurances that he will recuse himself from all matters that could directly affect the Trump family business.  Moreover, our Constitution prohibits the President from accepting payments from foreign states without express permission from Congress.  But Mr. Ross refused to say he would notify Congress, or do anything, if he became aware a foreign party were using the President’s business interests to entice or blackmail him to extract political concessions.”